Follow up

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The follow-up process is the most important part of the human rights periodic reporting process. After the adoption of the report and recommendations by the specific oversight mechanism, the UK has time until the next reporting period commences, to take measures to implement those recommendations. Subsequent state reports must also include information on what follow-up measures the UK has taken to implement the recommendations.

In Northern Ireland, the Department with policy responsibility for the treaty is tasked with coordinating the follow-up actions at the end of the reporting procedure. As certain recommendations may involve work that falls under the responsibility of a number of Departments, implementing those recommendations will require cross-departmental cooperation. 

  • EXAMPLE: 2008
  • A recommendation from the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child regarding the education of children in places of detention.

  • This required discussions between the three ministers of former DOJ, former DEL and former DENI.

  • A working group was established containing officials from all three departments.

  • They prepared an options paper for the Ministers regarding the implementation of this human rights recommendation.

Occasionally an oversight body may recommend that a follow-up action is taken in a specific timeframe before the next reporting cycle is due. This may happen if the same recommendation has been made in repeated reviews with no action taken to implement it.

  • Example: 2013
  • The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women included in its Concluding Observations to the UK a recommendation regarding changes to the criminal law on abortion.

  • This issue had been addressed on previous occasions with no action taken.

  • The Committee then requested that the UK government provide written information on the steps undertaken to implement this recommendation within 1 year.

Between reporting cycles, National Human Rights Institutions will refer to the conclusions and recommendations issued to the UK government in their advice to government departments. Civil society organisations like NGOs or trade unions may also use these recommendations:

  • In their lobbying activities

  • To raise the public awareness of the follow-up measures that should be taken by departments to comply with human rights standards.